Tradition Improves the Modern World

Al Habtoor Information & Research

Historical sites and building enjoy a lot of attention by local authority in Dubai. The emirateís government makes huge efforts to guarantee that future generations will inherit historical places in immaculate shape.

Situated in Jumairah, Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif is one of the important historical buildings in Dubai. Built in 1955, Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif was the summer residence of the late Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Simple and cooled by the sea breezes, the building provided its occupants with gentle climate even in the scorching summer days without any air conditioning in place. This mild climate in addition to the Arab traditional Falaj irrigation system made the building the destination for many visitors every day.

The late Sheikh Rashid built Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif in Jumairah among date palm plantations and houses of fishermen. He wanted the building to be summer retreat for himself, his family, guests and friends. The building was the forum for discussing and debating public affairs in a very important episode of Dubaiís history.

The summer residence was named after Umm Al Sheif pearl fishing bank, famous for its richness of the most valued natural pearls.

Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif was constructed of gypsum and coral rocks as well as Kandal tember imported from eastern Africa and date palm fronds. Built with two stories according to traditional style, the building has many air inlets in the walls and is surrounded by date palm, lemon and almond trees plantation that covers 3,300 square meters and enjoy considerable popularity among local and foreign tourists.

The building and its surrounding plantation is currently situated in a modern residential area which has been carefully planned to maintain the historic site intact. The Majlis is two-storied 14 m by 5.7 m building. Simplicity is the dominant feature of the place. The ground floor comprises an open liwan (terrace) and storeroom beside it there is a staircase leading to the second story. The second floor has a wide liwan and the main majlis (meeting) room.

Currently open to public, the place is restored by Dubai Municipality in 1994. Foundations and walls were enhanced while rooms and terraces were furnished with traditional furniture and items such as traditional coffee making equipments. The surrounding gardens were supplemented with different traditional designs of falajs, bonds and arbors used in local date palm plantations.

Main Majlis Room

The place receives the average of 200 visitors from different nationalities every day. It is very popular among UAE national picnic goers who have there a sense of their past. The site was isolated place in previous days and so it was overlooking Jumaira beach and received the mild sea breezes. Currently, it is separated from the beach by Jumaira Road. However, the area retains its traditional soul with some small villas built there.

Being an old and historical building among modern villas in Jumaira, Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif is so popular among foreigners. Under the supervision of Dubai Commerce and Tourism Marketing, it is open for public from 8 am till 9 pm. There, you can find items used in by the household of the late Sheikh Rashid.

There, visitor can see a blueprint of old and traditional Dubai which we have lost behind the non-stop construction boom. Natural beauty of date palms and winding falaj irrigating channels captures the soul of its visitors who often take their children with them.

Booklets and tourism guide will provide you with all needed information about the late Sheikh Rashid, the place and Dubai traditions.

Exterior view of the Majlis


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